ALL PLANETARIUM AND OBSERVATORTY PROGRAMS FOR THE PUBLIC (INCLUDING SCHOOL GROUPS AND OTHER PRIVATE SHOWS) ARE CANCELLED UNTIL THE END OF THE SPRING 2020 SEMESTER.
Located on the roof of the Science Building at the UW-Stevens Point campus, the Arthur J. Pejsa Observatory houses a 0.4-m (16-inch) Meade, computer controlled telescope. Normally the observatory is open for public viewing three nights per week (if the skies are clear) during the school year. Monday nights are specifically designed for the public while Tuesday and Wednesday nights are used primarily by astronomy students, but anyone is welcome. Public viewing runs from mid-September to mid-December, then late-January through mid-May. Most summers the observatory is closed. In the winter, dress warmly since the observatory temperature is the same as the outside temperature.
Access to the observatory is obtained by using the southwest stairwell in the Science Building and going to the fourth floor, room D402. Visitors are best advised to go to the third floor and follow the signs to the observatory by accessing the southwest stairwell. IF THE SKIES ARE CLEAR, on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, from 8:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. the Arthur J. Pejsa Observatory is open and is staffed by knowledgeable astronomy students and staff who will find and describe various interesting objects that can be seen in the current night-time sky. The staff will then allow visitors to observe them through the telescope.
NOTE: IF SKIES ARE CLOUDY THE OBSERVATORY WILL BE CLOSED. ALSO, IF THE TEMPERATURE DROPS BELOW ~10 DEGREES WE WILL ALSO DECIDE TO CLOSE DUE TO TECHNICAL CONSTRAINTS RELATED TO COMPUTER SCREENS, POOR COOMUNICATION BETWEEN COMPUTERS, TELESCOPE, AND DOME.
The observatory can be contacted to determine if we are open and have clear skies from any touch-tone phone by calling (715) 346-2208 and selecting the observatory option (number 6) from the automated attendant. On Monday through Wednesday evenings we update our message about 7:30 p.m. to give visitors our best estimate of the probability of clear skies and if the observatory will be open.
THE TRANSIT OF MERCURY - MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2019
On November 11 we'll be delighted to witness a spectacular astronomical event: the transit of planet Mercury. With the proper safety equipment, observers on Earth will have the chance to see a tiny dark dot slowly moving across the solar disk, if the weather permits it. From our perspective on Earth, we can only ever see Mercury and Venus (inferior planets of the solar system) crossing in front of, or transiting, the Sun, so it's a rare event you won't want to miss! Because Mercury is so small from our perspective on Earth, you'll need binoculars or a telescope with a Sun filter to see it.
CAUTION: Looking at the Sun directly or through a telescope without proper protection can lead to serious and permanent vision damage. Do not look directly at the Sun without a solar filter.
Weather permitting, here on campus we'll have a couple of telescopes properly equipped with solar filters in the sundial area, and one or two telescopes on the roof of the Science Building (West side). The students and members of the community are kindly invited to stop by and enjoy the cosmic spectacle. In Stevens Point the transit will last from 6:51 AM (transit ongoing during sunrise) until 12:04 PM. The Sun will be too low in the sky until about 8AM, and the buildings and trees may be blocking the view. Therefore, we'll begin our observing session at 8 AM.
More information about the transit as an astronomical event can be found at this external websites: